The Ninotchka Hat Blog

“… A civilization that permits women to wear such things on their heads. It won’t be long, comrades”
January 9, 2010, 4:35 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Some people, of course, would consider me a heretic for lopping off half of the immortal Miss Garbo’s face, but that hat she is wearing is such a whimsical and fabulous piece of millinery. The Ninotchka hat is in itself an example of a startling trend in women’s hats that emerged among the fashionable set in the 1930s. It’s not so much strange that the Ninotchka hat existed but that other Ninotchka type hats seem to pop up in 30s films like my much beloved “Holiday” 

Doris Nolan

Doris Nolan sporting a fashionable 1930s hat with Cary and Kate

Some of these contraptions still exist like 

Grey 1930s velveteen conical hat

Other fabulous examples can be found on the Conde Nast blog which is here

Between about 1932 and 1947 was what could be called the Golden Age of Hats. The uniform and ubiquitous 1920s cloche gave way to the architectural marvels of the 1930s and 40s. Platters, dunce caps, doll sized top hats, stripes, birds, buttons, foot and half long feathers, placemats, fezes, tassels, yard long veils, golly, NOTHING was safe. 

There were two major competing forces in women’s fashion in the 1930s, Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli. Chanel’s name  is instantly recognizable today and why not? She started a revolution. She was the first one who used jersey in women’s clothing. She brought the idea of the active woman into her designs and her clothes always facilitated ease of movement. She was economical where her predecessors (Poiret, Worth) had been ornate. She was a smart businesswoman. She lived her work. She was demanding. She was brilliant. Schiaparelli wasn’t like Chanel, who had a hardscrabble early life, abandoned by her father, and singing in music halls. Schiaparelli was the daughter of well-off parents. She was a surrealist. She hung around with the greats like Dali and Cocteau, though  her first big break in the fashion world came in her knitwear design. Knitwear had always seemed so incredibly bourgeois and 15 years earlier, the idea of knitwear in women’s couture would have been considered absurd, but Chanel changed that and Schiaparelli ran with it. Schiaparelli is also credited with the invention of “shocking pink”, bright, whimsical, but not vulgar. Rosalind Russell’s gorgeous suit from “His Girl Friday” was made by studio costume designer but the colour of the suit was alternating black and shocking pink. It makes my heart flutter imagining what that suit must have looked like. The film is, of course, in black and white. This page gives a wonderful overview of Miss Russell’s costume


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